What Small Homes Can Teach You About Living With Less

It’s spring, so it’s also spring cleaning season, and Step 1 is getting rid of all the unnecessary stuff that accumulates in your home. How does it manage to pile up? Didn’t you just do this last year??!! Maybe you should just throw it all away—for good.

Portable Home ÁPH80, exterior night view. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Ábaton Arquitectura. Photograph © Juan Baraja. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

In fact, that’s what a lot of people are doing now (OK, maybe not all of it). You’ve probably heard about the trend toward living with less—fewer possessions, less space—whether it’s zero-waste living or the tiny house movement.

There are two factors driving people toward small homes today: the economy and the environment, observes Francesc Zamora, author of “150 Best Mini Interior Ideas.” The coffee-table book, published in February, profiles small homes around the world.

Buy now: 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora (Click for the link to buy this book)

“They are generally more affordable, and for home buyers that means smaller mortgages. They are cheaper to maintain as well,” Zamora said in an interview. In addition, he said, “building and maintaining large houses has an impact on the environment. A large house takes more building resources and requires more maintenance than a smaller house. People are willing to go smaller to simplify their lives.”

Zamora said he was inspired by the creative storage solutions that he discovered while researching the book.

“I’m constantly looking for interesting storage solutions,” he said. “I think finding ways to store things is the biggest challenge people deal with, especially city dwellers. The book is chock-full of ideas, but the tricky part is choosing the one that works best for your home, that conforms to your style and to your needs.”

If you’re squeezed into tight quarters or looking to downsize, here are some of Zamora’s top tips.

1. Prefer an open plan

Apartment 1001. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Keiji Ashizawa Design. Photograph © Takumi Ota. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

When space is limited, you don’t want to carve it up. An open view with clean lines makes a space seem larger.

2. Make the most of natural light

Portable Home ÁPH80, interior. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Ábaton Arquitectura. Photograph © Juan Baraja. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

Abundant natural light makes your home feel larger, so capture as much of it as you can. Don’t have floor-to-ceiling windows? “Mirrors expand and reflect light,” Zamora writes. “You can transform a small room into a larger and brighter space by using illusion wisely.”

3. Use a minimalist color palette

Apartment in Wroclaw. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect 3XA. Photograph © S.Zajaczkowski. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

You want to avoid excess in a small space—too much stuff, too many frills, too many colors. Stick to one or two similar shades, max, preferably paler ones that help maintain a light feel.

4. Built-in furniture is key

Architect’s Loft. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect PorterFanna Architecture. Photograph © L.J. Porter. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

“Built-in furniture is perhaps the most efficient furnishing solution for spaces of limited dimensions: it frees up valuable floor area, makes the space less cramped and unifies the décor,” Zamora says.

5. Make your furniture work double duty

Apartment in Arad. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Cristina Bordoiu. Photograph © Sorin Popa. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

In a small space, everything has to earn its keep. “Furniture can be an effective room divider,” Zamora says. “It is an excellent solution for studio apartments where different functions share the same space.”

6. Obsess over your storage

AP 1211. From 150 Best Mini Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola. Architect Alan Chu. Photograph © Djan Chu. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2014 by Harper Design and LOFT Publications.

“Think about how you are going to use your cabinets so you can choose the right type of hardware,” Zamora says. “Look into different door hinges and drawer hardware.” Custom doesn’t have to be pricey, either. “Design your own modular system with crates of different sizes to bring an industrial touch to your home.”

As Zamora’s book shows, living in a small space doesn’t have to feel cramped and inconvenient. A thoughtful approach to simplifying your lifestyle can make a big difference. But still, keep a watchful eye on your stuff—it can pile up without your noticing. Seriously, how does it do that?

Published by Cicely Wedgeworth on realtor.com.

1800s Sheep Wagon for Sale

Life on the prairie doesn’t get more authentic than this.

For Karen Dehn’s granddaughter, it was the perfect spot for a sleepover. But this 70-square-foot abode wasn’t always parked at grandma’s house.

In the late 1800s — before the days of RVs and tent trailers — this wagon was home to a nomadic sheep herder in search of greener pastures. Led by horses through mountain meadows, the wagon is one of thousands that made its debut on the Western prairie.

But while most were eventually outfitted with rubber tires or replaced entirely, this one was found in Miles City, MT, transported to Wyoming and restored to its sheep wagon glory.

“You’ve got a bed, a little wood stove to cook on, a table that pulls out and two benches,” Dehn said.

In 2003, she and her husband replaced the original canvas roof with a metal one, added a bay window above the bed and installed electrical outlets. They left the wheels and stove untouched, however, to preserve the wagon’s integrity.

“Sheep wagons have small stoves, but the key is to get an original one,” Dehn said. “That’s what everyone wants.”

Since hitting the market for $25,000, the home-on-wheels has attracted two serious buyers — both ranchers looking to add a bedroom to their property.

“It’s a great place to sleep,” Dehn explained. With no bathroom, it’s designed to be an extension of your home for guests or tenants.

“Some people may also just want a fun playhouse,” she added.

The listing is held by Dan Casey of ERA Real Estate.

This article was published by Catherine Sherman on Zillow Blog.

Big Dream Born in a Tiny House

The designer and builder of this house on wheels first thought he would live in the home, but soon decided to start a business building custom tiny homes instead.

502 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA
For sale: $75,000

So many people loved the tiny house Ryan O’Donnell built that he decided to build something else: a business.

A carpenter by trade, O’Donnell intended to live in his 185-square-foot house.

Inspired by the tiny home movement, he wanted to live in a small space and documented his work on a Facebook page. He reclaimed the wood for the home from an old house being remodeled across town and found cedar milled from a giant tree that had fallen in a park nearby.

The tiny space has a woodstove built by a local steel artist, a little kitchen with handmade tile counters, and a bed in a loft.

The cabin also boasts artistic touches such as handcrafted copper lanterns and sconces and stained glass windows.

“It’s been more like an art project for me,” he said.

Outside, there is a small covered deck, a shower and a compostable toilet. It is insulated with sheep wool, and the whole thing sits on a trailer. The buyer would have to find a place to park the home, but O’Donnell says that hasn’t been difficult in the nearly two years he has spent there.

O’Donnell’s project is sustainable. During construction, he powered his tools off a bio-fueled generator. He named his business Humble-Hand Crafts, and hopes people will hire him to make similar cabins.

This article was originally published by Emily Heffter on Zillow Blog.

Living in a Shipping Container: The New Look of Affordable Housing?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The increasing challenge of affordable homeownership has been well documented – and renting an apartment is getting to be a similar fiscal strain. But if you could build a home for less than half the square foot cost of a conventional home, would you make the move? What if it meant living in a shipping container?

Living in a Shipping Container

© TheStreet Living in a Shipping Container: The New Look of Affordable Housing?

Maybe it’s time to think inside the box. Steel shipping containers – stacked aboard ships and trains to haul freight around the world – eventually land empty and unused. There are estimated to be some 20 million surplus containers ready to be repurposed. A 40-foot-long container costs anywhere from $1,400 to $4,000, and with a little patch of land, the installation of a foundation, electricity and plumbing, you’ve got yourself a sturdy little 320-foot homestead. And at about half the cost of a conventional house, according to the website of home renovation expert Bob Vila.

And nobody says you have to stop with just one. These things can be stacked up to nine high and then connected and assembled as sprawling units. The trend is spreading, not just for homeowners but for renters – particularly Millennials who prefer convenient urban living and compact spaces.

“We lock them together,” Micheal Kenner, a Nashville developer, told The Tennessean.Whatever you can do with Legos, you can do with these.” Kenner is transforming about a dozen of the units into “micro apartments” in the Music City. Nearly two dozen were recently converted into retail stores, restaurants and offices in a Nashville healthcare and technology development.

New York-based SG Blocks, container provider for the Nashville projects, has delivered the units for projects around the nation: from a beach home in the Hamptons and a Starbucks in Salt Lake City, to the South Street Seaport in New York.

“It represents a progression in the technology of construction,” Paul Galvin, CEO of SG Blocks told TheStreet recently. “We repurpose containers from intermodal units of transportation into intermodal units of construction that are stronger and greener and more-efficient than traditional construction.”

The company says the containers meet or exceed structural safety codes, are corrosion resistant and reduce construction time by up to 40%. And you would think that these heavy steel boxes would absorb heat and transfer cold indoors, but SG Blocks says proper insulation provides “more than adequate heat and cold protection.”

–Hal M. Bundrick is a Certified Financial Planner and contributor to MainStreet. Follow him on Twitter: @HalMBundrick

This article was originally published on MSN Real Estate. See it here.

How to Sell a Tiny House

While home buyers have sought large one- and two-story traditional homes for years, a new trend is emerging on the market: tiny houses.



These houses, sometimes as small as 500 square feet, have developed a following, but it takes more than minimal space to catch a buyer’s eye.

To sell a small home, you’ll need to make the most of the square footage.

Space-Saving Features Are Key

While many home buyers are looking to downsize into smaller homes, they don’t want to downsize their lifestyle. Buyers are attracted to tiny houses that contain space-saving features—allowing the homeowner to store more than one would think.

To make your own small house appealing to buyers, consider installing space-savers or highlighting what you already have:

  • Attached fold-out furniture: A kitchen table that folds flat against a wall frees up floor space.
  • Built-in bookshelves: These can hold more than just books, giving buyers more storage options.
  • Hanging pot racks: Making use of ceiling space helps add kitchen storage.

Utilize Outdoor Space

Emphasizing the outdoor space is an excellent way to make a tiny house feel spacious.

To maximize your yard space, remove overgrown or large plants and opt for minimal landscaping like ornamental grasses, day lilies or English lavender to make the yard appear larger.

For outdoor furniture, replace large, umbrella-covered dining tables with smaller bistro sets—or keep the space open.

Highlight Energy-Saving Perks

One of the biggest draws to tiny houses is tiny utility bills. If your home already has energy-efficient features, ask your listing agent to include the details and to point them out to potential buyers during the walk-through.

If your home doesn’t have energy-saving perks, consider making small upgrades to appeal to more buyers. For example, replacing the weather stripping is quick and inexpensive, and it cuts down on utility costs.

For Tiny House Staging, Keep It Simple

Having a clean, uncluttered home during an open house is important for any seller, but it is absolutely essential for small-home sellers. Start by removing any personal items like photo frames, knickknacks and children’s art. Then you can declutter every room and organize closets, drawers and bookshelves.

Before you open house, stage your newly organized rooms using a minimalist theme. Simple décor typically makes small spaces appear larger.

For example, a sofa with four throw pillows and a blanket may overwhelm a small living space. Instead, cut it down to two throw pillows and tuck the blanket in the closet.

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com. See it here.

Tiny House: Magical Mountain Retreat on Maui

Located in quiet Kula in the shadow of Mount Haleakala, we found a tiny house perfect for a buyer who wants to experience a different take on Hawaiian life. The remote, peaceful location contributes to the throwback charm of this cottage.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

On Maui, the “up-country” city of Kula is separated by distance and elevation from the busy beaches and tourists that crowd the cities of Wailea, Lahaina, and Kihei.

Listed for $650,000, the compact home offers only 300 square feet of living space. However, the tiny house comes with a fabulous perk: 11 acres of lush Hawaiian land and hard-to-match views of the island and ocean.

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The home itself has a living area, a small kitchen, and a full bathroom in its miniature space.

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“While the home is remote, you feel like you’re melting into nature,” listing agent Liam Ball said.

“The most romantic cabin on the island,” he added. “People truly love this property when they see it. I stayed here for a couple nights last year, and it’s amazing. You feel like the Milky Way is right in your face.”

For stargazing at night or barbecuing during the day, the tiny house has a wraparound outdoor deck peering down at the Pacific Ocean below.

from realtor.com

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While the home faces the southern shores of the island and is tantalizingly close to the tourist hub of Wailea down the hillside, the only road accessible to the home requires entrance from the north side.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

“It’s spectacularly beautiful,” Ball said. “You’re only a few minutes from a general store, but you have incredible privacy up here.”

And for folks looking to reduce their carbon footprint, the tiny house is entirely off-the-grid. Ball noted the home is entirely powered by solar energy and mentioned one sacrifice a buyer would have to make: having water trucked in.

He added that a water well could possibly be drilled, and zoning for the land supports another house and farm building—but Ball was quick to clarify that this home is completely livable and enjoyable as-is.

“In Hawaii, you don’t want to be separated from the outdoors,” he said. “I think the idea of building something smaller is a welcome trend. You don’t need a enormous home to shield you up here.”

So if you’d like to ditch the island clichés of mai-tais and macadamia nuts, this tiny Hawaiian home might be just the right fit.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com. To see the original article and more listing photos, click here.

150 Square Feet on Wheels

When Derin Williams was a kid, his crayon-house creations turned out the way you might expect: a triangle roof with a small window and a door.

As co-owner of Shelter Wise, the Portland, OR resident has now made a career of bringing his childhood drawings to life.  He has been building tiny homes in Northeast Portland for two years.

from Zillow

from Zillow

The Miter Box
For sale: $35,000

The Miter Box is a 150-square-foot tiny home with a triangle roof, a few small windows and a door. Named after a woodworking tool used to make precise cuts, the home boasts a sleek, minimalist design.

from Zillow

from Zillow

“Most tiny homes are rustic, cabinesque,” Williams said. “I took a Northeast salt box and added modern finishes.”

But don’t confuse minimalist for simplistic. From super insulated walls to sound-proof windows and hidden storage, a lot of the home’s detail is in what you can’t see.

“It’s for a minimalist who is very particular about having minimal belongings in sight,” Williams said.

from Zillow

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To make this possible, almost everything in The Miter Box serves a dual purpose. The kitchen has a hydraulic dining room table that converts into a bed, while a “wet bath” is designed as both a shower and lavatory with a flushing toilet.

from Zillow

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These design choices make the house feel bigger, which is especially important in a space the size of some people’s closets.

“We are bombarded with buy, buy, buy,” Williams said. “If you limit your living space, you have to make smart decisions about what to fill it with.”

After visiting Africa with his wife and seeing how people live with less, Williams was inspired to design more space- and energy-efficient houses. To keep building costs down and make his designs portable, Williams’ tiny homes are also on wheels.

from Zillow

from Zillow

“People just keep asking us to put them on wheels,” he said.

His typical customers are from a “younger, hipster crowd,” but Williams says he also gets a lot of women in their 40s who are reevaluating their life and looking to downsize.

“Tiny homes appeal to people who have had a rough go and are trying to start over,” he said. “They could help a lot of people.”

This article was originally published by Catherine Sherman on Zillow Blog. See more pictures and the original article here.

Catherine Sherman, a real estate writer for Zillow Blog, covers real estate news, industry trends and home design. Read more of her work here.